Cody Rhodes left WWE in May of 2016, and began wrestling for other promotions in August of last year. In that 16 months or so, Cody has been pretty much anywhere and everywhere you can imagine. He worked for PWG and EVOLVE, was Kurt Angle’s final opponent before Angle returned to WWE, guest starred a bunch on Arrow, slammed a guy onto thumbtacks for charity, and had a stint in Impact Wrestling (or whatever it might have been called at the time).
Mostly, though, he’s been a fixture of both Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling as “The American Nightmare,” an integral inner-circle member of the Bullet Club. He’s the current ROH world champ, and has signed a full-time contract with the company (which essentially means he’s signed a contract with both companies, given their very close working relationship at the moment).
As part of the Bullet Club, Cody has his “American Nightmare” BC shirts in every Hot Topic in the country, and they’re reportedly selling like hotcakes. Hell, Cody even has his own wine. He and the Young Bucks are making so much money on their own on the international indie scene that they’re even planning on promoting their own 10,000-seat arena show next year, and are in the process of finalizing a venue.
How much money does it cost to rent out a 10,000-seat arena? A lot! Thankfully, “a lot” is how much Cody has been making since being granted his WWE release. During an interview with Busted Open Radio, Cody said that he earned seven figures in 2017, which is more than he ever made in a single year during his decade under contract with WWE. (Transcript via Wresting Inc.)
“Not to sound tacky, but this has been the first seven-figure year I’ve ever had and it blows me away that it happened, so on that end, for my family and well-being, that part has been the best. But also, the part I enjoy the most, the fans and the creative element of what we do, I keep saying it, but to play music how you want to play it, it [has] never been like this before for me …
“I look at a time, my WWE Intercontinental Championship run as my favorite thing I ever did, because I got to change the belt [design], and I got to be involved in a couple of WrestleManias with that in the picture, but this time, now, has completely passed it by, blown it away. Being a world champion is all that it was cracked up to be from every world champion that there ever was that told me about it. It [has] certainly been everything that I dreamed and hoped for.”
From his being able to check off pretty much every item on his “wish list” in a matter of months, to getting ready to pack an arena with no backing other than his personal funds and the support of his friends, it really sounds like Cody is living his dream in all respects. All he had to do was leave the only organization he’d ever wrestled for!